Pooling of samples to optimise SARS-CoV-2 detection in nasopharyngeal swabs and gargle lavage self-samples for covid-19 diagnostics and surveillance.

Publication date: Mar 29, 2024

Testing of pooled samples is an effective strategy for increasing testing capacity while saving resources and time. This study aimed to validate pooled testing and gather real-life data on its use for Covid-19 surveillance with a gargle lavage (GL) self-sampling strategy. Two-stage pooled testing with pools of 6 and 12 samples was used for preventive testing of an asymptomatic population and Covid-19 surveillance in Czech schools. Both GL and nasopharyngeal swabs were used for sampling. In total, 61,111 samples were tested. The use of pooled testing for large-scale Covid-19 surveillance reduced consumable costs by almost 75% and increased testing capacity up to 3. 8-fold compared to standard methods. RT-PCR experiments revealed a minimal loss of sensitivity (0-2. 2%) when using pooled samples, enabling the detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genes with Ct values >35. The minor loss of sensitivity was counterbalanced by a significantly increased throughput and the ability to substantially increase testing frequencies. Pooled testing is considerably more cost-effective and less time-consuming than standard testing for large-scale Covid-19 surveillance even when the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 is fluctuating. Gargle lavage self-sampling is a non-invasive technique suitable for sample collection without a healthcare worker’s assistance.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus Covid-19 surveillance
Czech gargle lavage
Increased Pooled testing
Pooling self-sampling


Type Source Name
disease MESH covid-19
disease VO effective
disease VO time
disease VO population
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

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